Economics and Usage of Digital Libraries: Byting the Bullet
Economic Behavior of Scholars

Given our original framework, we would like to bring together everything that we have learned, to formulate some economic model about scholars' preferences for modalities of book access. We believe that, for this issue, one key variable is cost which we characterize simply as low or high. (For the moment let us imagine that this is the purchase price of the book, as far as the scholar is concerned.). We propose that the other key variable is whether the scholar intends to read much or read little. We believe that whether the book is cheap or expensive, if only a little of it is to be read, the scholar will prefer to get it online. Based on data available to us during the span of this project, we believe that if much of the book is to be read, the scholar will prefer to get it in paper form. If the cost is low, the scholar will buy it; and if the cost is high, the scholar would like the library to buy it so that he or she can borrow it.

In short, what we seem to find is that users want online books for convenient access and for assured availability. They also want online books for many of the purposes discussed above. They are particularly attracted by the added functionality of annotating and hyperlinking. Nonetheless, our results indicate that when scholars want to read books at length, they still want them in paper form.